Facebook updates its privacy policy, but who really benefits?

Last week, Facebook updated its privacy policy alongside the terms and conditions, with the intention of making them more appealing and comprehensible to users. By launching a new Privacy Basics microsite alongside the changes, it is, on the surface at least, handing more control back to the user.

Privacy Basics uses far simpler language, bold graphics and a responsive format that makes it usable across all screen sizes. It is attractive, well structured content made accessible for everyone.

“Our goal is to make the information about Facebook as clear as possible,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, told The Wall Street Journal. “Our hope is that it won’t take long for people to read through this and really get it.”

But as we come to expect from Facebook, there seems to be an underlying business objective behind the move, beyond just the façade of winning back the trust of users.

Facebook’s new policies may well be easier to understand, but if you have the time to actually read through them, they actually do little to give us more control over the way Facebook shares our data with brands and advertisers.

For those of us who might already have a working knowledge of how Facebook allows brands to sponsor content might find the new policies a bit more interesting. For example, there are new policies around better location targeting which are prepping the way for new Facebook features and products.

Facebook has spoken in the past about refining its location services, and it seems from the new policies that soon they will be able to use check-ins and nearby friends to target ads and posts based on real-time location information – posting sponsored content for restaurants, pubs or bars in the area while we are casually checking our news feeds when waiting for a friend at the station, for instance.

For brands and marketers, the new policies have given us an exciting view into the future of location-targeted content. But from a personal point of view, just when I feel I might be gaining a bit more control over how my personal data is shared, used and viewed, I know from professional experience that it is not the case.

Does it stop me sharing my information, though? No chance.

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